Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baking for the Freezer: Magic Wands and Mini Cupcakes

It's school week, which means I'm baking up a storm getting ready to pack some completely home-made, nutrient-rich lunchbox goodies for my girls. Yesterday, I made fairy princess bread. Today, I made magic wands and some magical cupcakes. The magic in the cupcakes is that they're full of green apples and orange carrots. They are still dessert -- I don't mistake them for anything else -- but if I'm going to serve dessert, I might as well get some green and orange in the girls' bellies, right?

Both of these goodies were taste-tested today by my girls and their friends, and both passed with high marks. The kids kept asking for more. Good thing the cupcake recipe turned out a whole bunch! I'm sticking these in the freezer. By freezing them on a cookie sheet until solid, then transferring to containers, I can preserve the shape of the cupcakes. A frozen cupcake packs wonderfully, thawing just in time for lunch at school when placed in an insulated lunchbox.

Magic Wands

What You Need:
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (or substitute whole wheat for half)
  • colorful jimmies
  • almond bark or white chocolate (1/4 lb was all I needed)
  • colored sugar
How it's Done:
  1. Combine yeast, sugar, and water in a mixing bowl. Stir and let this sit for ten minutes until doubled in volume and bubbly.
  2. Mix in oil, salt, and flour. Knead 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  3. Cover and let dough rest at least 15 minutes. It's forgiving: If you need to let it rest an hour or two, just punch it down when you're ready to move on.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half.
  5. Roll each half into a roughly 9x11" rectangle. Sprinkle colorful jimmies over dough and run the rolling pin over it to press them into the dough.
  6. Cut the dough into strips, less than 1" wide.
  7. Twist the ends of the dough until a tight spiral shape is achieved.
  8. Place each spiral straight on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 14 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Let cool completely.
  9. Melt almond bark. Dip the end of each wand into the melted candy, then sprinkle with colored sugar for a magical tip.
  10. Let the candy harden. Store tightly covered.

Mini Apple-Carrot Cupcakes with Honey-Butter Frosting
makes about 56 mini cupcakes

I love honey-butter frosting. I first made it with maple cupcakes and everyone gobbled them up. This time I paired the frosting with a denser cupcake and it didn't disappoint. The batter is very thick and full of fruit and vegetables. If your eaters are fussy about this, I suggest you puree them instead of grating them.

What You Need:

for the cupcakes:
  • 1/2 cup safflower or other light oil
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 carrots (peeled or not -- I peeled mine)
  • 3 small apples (peeled or not -- I did not peel these, and I used Granny Smith)
for the frosting:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 to 6 cups confectioner's sugar

How it's Done:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini cupcake tin with papers or spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Grate the carrots and apples and set them aside.
  3. Beat butter, oil, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly stir in flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Once all are incorporated, beat on medium-high 2 minutes.
  5. Fold in apples and carrots.
  6. Fill cupcake tins all the way to the top. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until top springs back when pressed gently. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
  7. For the frosting, beat together the butter and honey. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar until the desired consistency is met. If you want to color the frosting, do so before adding the confectioner's sugar. Frost as desired.
How are you preparing for back to school? Have you ever cooked ahead and frozen portions for lunchboxes?


Yenta Mary said...

I need a magic wand ... oh, what I could do with it before I eat it! They're so cute -- what a great idea ... :)

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

I love both of these recipes Michelle! The princess wands are brilliant, I'll have to make some for my daughter :) The cupcakes, well they just sound down right good :) YUM! your girls are lucky to have such an awesome mom to make such cool lunches!

Jenn said...

Michelle, what wonderful ideas for your girls! They must be the envy of all the kids when they go back to school! I would take both those in my lunch any day!

Kim said...

Great ideas...I guess I could make the magic wands for the boys and use blue tips!!

Sharlene T. said...

What a great idea... almost makes me want to go out and rent some children so that I can fix it for their lunches... but, since I won't do that, I am definitely going to make some for when the grandchildren visit and they will think I'm so clever... thank you for sharing

Twitter: SolarChief

Jacqueline said...

Oh, you are too cool of a mom! I could never have been that cool. What child wouldn't want to bring those out and lunch and say, "Look how much my mom loves me!" Lovin it!

SJ said...

The 'Magic Wands' look awesome.

Kit said...

Thanks Michelle! You've just planned my Saturday. The kids and hubby are going out of town. This will be a perfect fun activity for me. :)

heather said...

I think I need to try this honey butter frosting...as soon as i get more honey!

such creative ideas! way to go mama...and currently im not preparing for back to school, the kids are too young!

Michelle said...

Those pictures are making me hungry. Those cupcakes are a good idea. I already ziplisted it.
I also have an award for you on my blog, http://newtomom.com/?p=279

Kristina said...

I made the mini cupcakes today and they are so yummy! The icing is amazing!!! My daughter wants the honey butter cream on her birthday cake. This was a simple recipe to make, but I ended up with 88 delicius cupcakes. I put some in the freezer and am taking some to VBS tomorrow night.

Kristin said...

Dumb question... do you frost them and then freeze? I just saw them on the other blog and wondered in the frosting was frozen or if you put that on when you put it in the lunchbox. Great ideas!

Michelle said...

Not dumb at all! :) I frost then freeze. It's up to you which one you do. I find it much easier to pack when it's frozen solid, and the whole thing tastes as good as fresh once it's thawed. Freeze them individually on a baking sheet, then store them in a covered container once they're frozen.

Anonymous said...

Yes you the talented person

Anonymous said...

I sympathise with you.

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